by James Green
Featured on MediaPost’s RTB Insider, July 24, 2014
Programmatic buying has become one of the most popular buzzwords in our industry, and as I said a few months back, it’s often used as a catchall phrase or used interchangeably with the term “real-time bidding.” Since then, there’s been much talk about the evolution of programmatic marketing. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that top publishers are now getting in the game and selling home page ads, with confidence, through programmatic channels. Time Inc., Hearst Corporation, Business Insider and others are all on board because the current set of tools available allow for pricing control, circumventing the fear that prices could tumble via a programmatic exchange. In addition, media buying firms and major brands like Procter & Gamble are also looking to buy a majority of online ads programmatically, proving that the wave is unstoppable.
Despite the momentum from many major players in the marketing space, recent research by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Forrester Consulting found that more than half of the marketers surveyed didn’t understand programmatic well enough to buy and execute campaigns with it. Further, just one-quarter of U.S. client-side marketers understand and are using programmatic technology.
Although the world of data and real-time buying may seem overly complex, programmatic marketing actually simplifies our lives more than we think. The fact that we can serve up an ad based on the end user’s behaviors and attributes in 120 milliseconds wherever they are is truly impressive and creates engagements that we may never have thought possible. Instead of focusing on the complexities, we should be looking at the ways programmatic simplifies our lives.
With programmatic advertising, technology and data do a majority of the work, which enables the digital medium to reach audiences at massive scale. The automated process also creates efficiencies across buying media, from identifying the right audience to purchasing and delivering the actual ad.
While some have expressed concern over the changing of the guard from humans to robots, the rise of programmatic doesn’t mean replacing the human element altogether. Instead, the main objective is to make advertising more efficient, relevant and scalable in a world that is quickly adapting to digital technology. It focuses on eliminating time spent on processes that can be automated, and driven by data.
The rise of data is a key component to creating and running successful ad campaigns from buying to optimization. Site and search retargeting are common practices for programmatic marketing, which allows marketers to rely on algorithms to decide which audience to buy, what messages to show and even when to reach them. All of this is done by combining massive amounts of data elements — from site behaviors to purchasing patterns — and then using rules-based logic to make the best decision for your brand. This machine-to-machine process streamlines communication and implementation, creating great efficiencies and ultimately saving on costs.
Without programmatic solutions, marketers would have a hard time keeping up with the digital landscape and satisfying customers. Instead of looking at programmatic as the complex system for advertising, we should be thinking of it as the tool that simplifies our marketing campaigns and enables brands to take full advantage of what the digital medium has to offer.